PAVEMENT REPLACEMENT WORK ON INTERSTATE 8 UPDATE PROJECT IN IMPERIAL COUNTY
TRAFFIC DELAYS AND DETOURS
Caltrans crews continue work on the Interstate 8 (I-8) Update Project in Imperial County, from State Route 111 (SR-111) to the California/Arizona border. Lane closures and traffic detours for three separate segments along I-8 may cause significant delays as motorists travel between California and Arizona. Signage will be posted alerting motorists of the work and associated detours. Motorists traveling in Imperial County east of El Centro are urged to plan ahead.
A Win for OHV!!
In what many are calling a huge victory for the OHV Community, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the Imperial Sand Dunes RAMP, which in 2014 reopened thousands of acres of dunes to OHV recreation, can remain in place as-is.
In a unanimous opinion, the three-judge federal court panel rejected plaintiffs' claims that BLM's decision to open additional land to OHV use violated the Endangered Species Act, Clean Air Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act. The panel held that impacts to the federally-threatened Peirson’s milkvetch did not require an “incidental take” statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, the panel held that BLM did not act arbitrarily or capriciously when determined that reopening the previously-closed dune areas would not cause an increase in air quality impacts, such as dust.
Unless Anti-access groups want to expend an exorbitant amount of resources on a full 9th Circuit Court hearing and/or appeal to the Supreme Court, the validity of the ISDRA RAMP is confirmed.
The Anti-access group’s only viable option now is to have one or more species in the dunes declared threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. So we must continue our vigilance in protecting our right to motorized recreation at the Imperial Sand Dunes.
Throughout the El Centro Field Office management area, we are seeing a tremendous amount of youth riders and want to ensure they and their parents understand the rules for operating OHVs so that they are safe and can meet legal requirements if contacted by law enforcement.
California Vehicle Code section 38503 states that anyone under 18 operating an ATV shall either: 1) currently be taking a safety course under supervision; 2) are in possession of an ATV safety certificate; or 3) under the supervision of an adult who is in possession of an ATV certificate. Additionally, those under 14 must always be under the supervision of an adult and must either: 1) possess an ATV safety certificate or; 2) the adult must possess an ATV certificate.
The American Sand Association through our consortium with EcoLogic Partners, Inc., submitted a comment letter to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife in response to their status review of the Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard (FTHL); all in response to a Petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity to list the FTHL under the California Endangered Species Act.
EcoLogic Partners, Inc. consists of the American Sand Association, San Diego Off-Road Coalition, the American Motorcyclists Association District 37, and the Off Road Business Association.
A copy of EcoLogic’s comment letter can be found here.
Today, Rep. Paul Cook (R- Apple Valley) introduced HR 3668, the California Minerals, Off-Road Recreation, and Conservation Act. This bill presents a balanced approach to protecting, managing, and using our desert and forest areas in San Bernardino and Inyo Counties. This bill would deal with the management of existing federal land and would not result in an increase in federal landownership.
This bill establishes a Mojave Trails Special Management Area (SMA) in an area south of the existing Mojave Preserve and northeast of the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. This designation protects existing mining operations and allows for future mining exploration as long as mining projects never exceed ten percent of the total acreage. It would also prevent the installation of any industrial-scale renewable energy projects. Additionally, this bill would protect from development any lands within the management area donated to the federal government for conservation purposes. Over 1,200 miles of roads and off-road vehicle trails are written into law as well.